My friend Fabrice Imparato headed off yesterday to climb K2 – known by mountaineers as The Savage Mountain and widely regarded as being substantially more difficult and dangerous than Everest. I have to admit, I was green with envy.
Not because he was going to climb K2 as such because I have no such ambitions for that mountain which I regard, personally, as being too dangerous to climb.
But rather envious of the entire process, the complete path that I know Fabrice had to take to prepare for the climb and the path that he is still on to get to the summit and down safely. I know the path well as I journeyed on it when I climbed my first 8000 meter peak, Cho Oyu back in 2009.
Climbing an 8000 meter peak, any of the only 14 in the world, is akin to the Labours of Hercules. It takes years of mountaineering experience, insane training, logistical preparation, gear preparation, the determination of Hercules and often, the patience of Job. You show up at a mountain that no matter how well trained and organized you are, may not allow you to get to the summit. Climbing the world’s highest peaks is a fantastic parable of life and what gave me the clarity to write The 8 Principles to Live Adventurously which is essentially a set of principles that anyone can use to live a more exciting, fulfilling and fun life – mountains not required.
In a life bombarded with noise and endless to do lists, climbing the world’s highest mountains is an amazing lesson in enjoying the journey rather than just the end result. After all, who in their right mind would otherwise spend so much time, effort and resources to get to a place where they can’t stay long at all. The summit of an 8000 meter peak, while hypnotically stunning is a wickedly dangerous place. After years of preparation and hardship, your summit party, if you get one, is 5-15 minutes and then you have to get down.
Which brings us back to the question that we high altitude mountaineers get a lot. Why would anybody want to do something like this?
If you ask 100 mountaineers why they climb you’ll get 100 different answers but it all gets back to purpose. We do it because it’s part of what we are here to do. It gives meaning to life; ours and everyone else’s as well. It shows all humanity what we are capable of when we focus, practice mastery and enjoy the journey.
Mantagirl and I have decided to climb Aconcagua this coming Dec/Jan. At 22,841 feet, it is the highest point in the Americas and one of the Seven Summits. That means that today, we start training. And that’s a good thing because we can’t wait. Our definition of training is working out with a Purpose. Have you ever just felt that working out was endless drudgery? If so, find something to train for. It can be a walk, a race, a mountain or even a set distance that you want make. Doesn’t matter what. What matters is that you have a goal. And remember, goals are just dreams with a timeline. That way, they actually get done instead of just talked about.
I envy Fabrice because I know that he is in the midst of all this. He is focused, empowered, fulfilled, excited and having fun. I’m starting down the path to my next mountain and I will be too. What are you going to train for?
Check out Fabrice’s really cool photo gallery from his K2 climb in 2009
Life by Design Series
Our life by design series covers topics, tips and strategies to help you craft a life that is exciting, fulfilling and fun.